A senior judge’s refusal or order a re-opening of a public inquiry into plans for two wind turbines in the north Norfolk countryside has drawn the ire of the local council, who labelled the decision “disappointing for residents”.
Rt Hon Lord Justice Lindblom has rejected a North Norfolk District Council bid to have the Court of Appeal reconsider how the planned turbines at Bodham and Selbrigg – between Holt and Sheringham – should be assessed.
The council wanted appeals against the turbines to be revaluated by re-opening a public inquiry, but the judge said appeals could be determined by written representation instead.
Councillor Karen Ward, the council’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “The decision of Lord Justice Lindblom is disappointing for residents of north Norfolk.
“This council recognises the vital role that renewable-energy projects can play in de-carbonising the energy sector as we look to respond positively to our declaration of a climate emergency.
“However, it is also important that renewable-energy proposals are sensitive to the important landscape and heritage value of our district.”
Residents are concerned about the visual impact of the planned turbines – which would sit on the Cromer Ridge and be visible for miles around.
In May 2017, the council successfully challenged a previous inspector’s decision to allow the two turbine appeals following a seven-day joint public inquiry in late 2016. It was expected that the Planning Inspectorate would hold a new joint public inquiry to re-consider the appeals.
After hearing evidence from both sides, and despite the judge finding that the Planning Inspectorate’s decisions, for the most part, were not expressed within the right framework, Justice Duncan Ouseley found in favour of the Planning Inspectorate and concluded that the decision to redetermine the appeals by written representations was lawful.
The council had concerns about Mr Ouseley’s decision, and that led to an application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Ms Ward added: “It is vital to ensure that evidence in relation to application proposals and planning appeals can be properly tested in the right forum.
“This council remains firmly of the view that a reopened public inquiry would have been the best way for the Planning Inspectorate to reconsider these turbine appeals.”
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